Recommendations as Treatments: Debiasing Learning and Evaluation

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Tobias Schnabel, Adith Swaminathan, Ashudeep Singh, Navin Chandak, Thorsten Joachims ;
Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 48:1670-1679, 2016.

Abstract

Most data for evaluating and training recommender systems is subject to selection biases, either through self-selection by the users or through the actions of the recommendation system itself. In this paper, we provide a principled approach to handle selection biases by adapting models and estimation techniques from causal inference. The approach leads to unbiased performance estimators despite biased data, and to a matrix factorization method that provides substantially improved prediction performance on real-world data. We theoretically and empirically characterize the robustness of the approach, and find that it is highly practical and scalable.

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